Thursday, July 4, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

A Minute With The Mayor Ry Collins

As we navigate through the complexities of a post-COVID-19 world, the importance of domestic tourism to our region cannot be overstated.

With the latest figures indicating that domestic tourism numbers are experiencing a slowdown nationally, it is even more crucial that the Council owned and operated Whitsunday Coast Airport (WCA) remains a crucial gateway for driving tourism into our beautiful region.

Under the guidance of our Director of Commercial Businesses, Craig Turner, Whitsunday Coast Airport (WCA) has been instrumental in delivering record numbers of visitors to the Whitsundays providing key connectivity and access to our world-renowned destinations.

It is exciting that the growth has been consistent over a number of years since 2021 where 280,000 passengers passed through the terminal to a record 477,490 in 22/23 and we are tipped to crack the magic 500,000 barrier for 23/24.

The strategic importance of a high functioning airport cannot be overstated, as it not only supports the tourism industry but also boosts our local economy and creates jobs for our community.

The Whitsunday Coast Airport's role extends beyond just tourism. It is a vital link for business travel and freight, ensuring that our region remains connected and competitive.
WCA opened its Freight Distribution Centre in April 2023, and the volume of freight has grown significantly as other airlines commenced freight up lift.

Freight includes live seafood and produce, pets and animals, unaccompanied baggage, valuable possessions or custom cargo, and everything in between!

The airport's ongoing expansion and upgrade plans are set to further enhance its capacity and facilities, positioning it as a leading regional airport in Australia.

Whitsunday Regional Council recently conducted community consultation to seek input to update the WCA Masterplan from 2015 to support the development and expansion of the airport following significant growth in passenger numbers and aircraft traffic.

This updated masterplan is now complete, has been quantity surveyed for costings and is now a shovel ready project which I will be advocating for at Federal and State Government levels.

The last terminal upgrade was completed in 2019 and was designed to cater for a decade of growth but such has been the rapid growth of passenger numbers the terminal has hit capacity in less than 5 years.

Our focus as a Council must be on leveraging the strengths of the Whitsunday Coast Airport to attract more visitors. The WCA team have been proactive in this regard leveraging their partnership with Bishopp Advertising to deliver strategically placed billboards promoting flights to region in key CBD locations in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba giving our airport exposure to domestic and international tourists.

The airport's commitment to excellence in service and its strategic importance as a transportation hub are key drivers in maintaining the airport's operations and ensuring that our region remains accessible and attractive to visitors.

A big pat on the back to Craig and his dedicated team at Whitsunday Coast Airport for their hard work and commitment.

As we look to the future, it is vital that we continue to support and invest in the Whitsunday Coast Airport. Together, we can ensure that our region remains a top destination for domestic and international tourists alike, driving economic growth and prosperity for our Whitsunday region.

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